Eleni Glouftsis knows some fans won’t be happy on Saturday, when the South Australian becomes the first woman to umpire an AFL match.
Not because they are misogynistic or sexist, rather that she is an umpire and has just penalised the team they support.
Glouftsis, who has been officiating Australian rules football games at various levels for 12 years, will be partly in control of Sunday’s Etihad Stadium clash between Essendon and West Coast.
Glouftsis earned her appointment on merit, as AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and umpires boss Hayden Kennedy pointed out on Tuesday.
She doesn’t expect or want to be treated any differently.
“In umpiring you come to understand the nature of it, it’s not always the most liked role in football,” she told ABC Radio.
“You just get on with the job and do as best as you can.
“All spectators have their different opinions of the game and generally it’s pretty funny stuff.
“The really important thing as an umpire is to just remember that nothing is really personal, they’re just there to play the game or spectate and they’re really passionate about their team.
“On the whole people are really supportive of me and they treat me just as they would other umpires.”
Glouftsis played football as a child but umpiring is now very much her passion, having relocated to Melbourne with the help of an AFL female pathway scholarship.
Glouftsis earned a series of promotions by making a good impression in SANFL, VFL and AFL pre-season matches.
Her call-up comes the same year Hawthorn chief executive Tracey Gaudry became the first woman to hold the top job at any AFL club, and the league launched a national women’s competition.
“It’s great to be helping females in this role but I don’t see myself being any different to any other umpires,” she said.